Chinese woman drives 50,000 km to Namibia

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Lahja Nashuuta
Windhoek

The drive to explore the world pushed 28-year-old Wu Shan, a Chinese national, to embark on a marathon 50,000km adventure road trip from Beijing to Namibia all by herself in an all-terrain SUV that will make the manufacturers of the Changan – the made-in-China SUV – proud with joy.

When Wu set out on a solo 10-month road trip to Namibia in June, she had no idea how her journey would be, however she had hoped she would reach Namibia within 10 months.  

Her dream became a reality when she reached Namibia on March 8, still in good health and rearing to cover more mileage in her Changan, made by a state-owned enterprise headquartered in Chongquing, whose primary activity is the production of micro vans and light trucks.

Narrating her motive to drive to Namibia by road, Wu told New Era she had wanted to explore the wonders of the world and since by flight she could not experience a lot, she opted to drive.
Wu embarked on her adventure from Beijing in June last year and drove through European countries such as Georgia to Kazakhstan en-route to Russia.

While in Europe, Wu used her SUV to visit countries such as Finland, Italy, France, Germany, England and Spain. In mid-September she crossed the Gibraltar Sea between Spain and Morocco into Africa.

“It was a hustle and bustle trip, but at the same time I really enjoyed it. I managed to make friends in every country I visited, visiting amazing places and exploring different cultures,” she beamed.
Wu said one of the major challenges she faced while on her way to Namibia is the unbelievably potholed and poor state of the roads in some African countries, and extreme weather conditions.

She went through 17 African countries after having travelled from Spain entering the continent through Morocco. The journey took her through 28 European countries.

“Driving through European countries was a bit fast as their road infrastructure is in good condition. In most cases it took four to five days to reach the next country. However, when I reached Africa it was a different story. For instance, the road between Gabon and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is very bad especially outside towns and the weather was also not good. I also slowed down, that is why I took more days,” said Wu.

Another challenge she encountered was communication as most of the African countries she travelled through do not speak English but they are Francophone countries that speak French.

“It was hard for me to communicate to them.  I remember in DRC, I went to a petroleum station and asked for the fuel attendant to put for me petrol but instead he just put in diesel. I also experienced it in another country, when I said petrol but the people put in diesel.”

Wu also pointed out the hefty toll road fees and high fees charged by some opportunistic immigration officers at some African borders as another of the challenges.

“I remember like at the border of DRC and Kinshasa, the immigration official told me that I have to pay U$2,000. I know this was daytime robbery because I was told to remain seated in my car and just hand over the money to one man who never provided me with a receipt,” she said.

The hefty non-uniform border fees charged mostly in the different African countries where the roads differ from country to country saw her bill increase to US$65,000 the equivalent of N$800,000. This included the amount she had to fork out for accommodation, border and other fees but the hefty bill excluded fuel and other related costs.

Wu was also robbed on her journey to Namibia, which happened in Liverpool, England where thieves smashed her car window and took all her belongings that included a laptop, camera lenses and some money.
She said based on what she encountered in other African countries, Namibia with its infrastructure and friendly people has impressed her the most.

“Namibia is beautiful. I entered the country through Ondjiva border post from Angola and the immigration officials were friendly. Namibia is clean and has very few people,” she said.

Wu will be in Namibia for a month. She has so far visited the coast, the desert as well as Epupa in Kunene Region and will be leaving to Etosha National Park tomorrow where she intends to spend her Easter weekend.
She said while in Namibia she will use media platforms to tell the world about Namibia and its unique cultures and marvellous places that other tourists from China and other countries could visit.

Her last stopover will be South Africa where she intends to renew her passport before she flies back to China after having taken what will indeed be a very memorable journey that took her through three continents. “I will leave my car in South Africa because I will be back to embark on another journey from South Africa to eastern African countries,” she said.

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